Condé Nast titles Architectural Digest and Condé Nast Traveller in the Middle East will become owned and operated under Condé Nast starting in 2023. Previously, the titles operated in those territories under licensing agreements, which are expiring at the end of the year.
ITP Media Group began publishing AD in 2015 and Condé Nast Traveller in 2013. GQ also is published in the Middle East under an agreement with ITP, which will continue. Condé Nast brands Vogue and Wired also will continue to operate in the Middle East under license with Nervora Media.
Bringing AD and CNT into the Condé Nast firmament will give the company greater editorial and commercial oversight. And a search is underway for an editorial team to lead the magazines, which will be based in Dubai. This marks the first owned and operated launch since 2007, when Vogue was launched in India.
In a statement, Albert Read, deputy managing director for Condé Nast Europe, noted the growth potential in the region.
“We’re delighted to introduce AD and Condé Nast Traveller as our first owned-and-operated brands in the Middle East,” Read said. “This is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world and we believe these iconic brands can accelerate their growth with connectivity to our global infrastructure. ITP have been outstanding partners and we look forward to continuing working with them on GQ and greatly appreciate their stewardship of AD and CNT over the past years.”
The business imperatives of bringing the titles under Condé Nast are obvious, even as human rights groups continue to sound alarms about the countries’ record on human rights. Leaders in the Middle East, including oil-rich United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have in recent years undertaken a soft power campaign to depict the countries as progressive and tolerant relative to many other nations in the region. Dubai has become a travel destination, especially for Europeans. And the U.S. government has worked in recent years to boost investment — especially in clean technology and pharmaceuticals — from the UAE, which in 2020 accounted for approximately $45 billion in federal direct investment in the U.S. economy.